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Talking pictures: Readers hold back on hate mail

Column on 'Star Wars' DVD fails to stir a tempest

George Lucas
George Lucas

Yes, I'll admit it. Sometimes I write or say things in the hope of getting a rise out of people. What can I say?

So, on some level, I'm at least a little disappointed that last week's "Star Wars" DVD-outrage column didn't engender the hateful, vitriolic responses I anticipated.

Instead, I got responses from people like longtime reader Wayne Strong, who said, "It was refreshing to read that I'm not the only one who thinks (George Lucas) 'went too far.' " And James D'Arc, who said he's glad he held onto his letterboxed, laserdiscs of the original trilogy.

"They are the only digital-disc copies of these original versions. It looks like we'll never see them on DVD with what Lucas has now done to these films," D'Arc said.

Oh, I did get some hate mail. One e-mailer, who won't be named here, essentially called me every name in the book and accused me of several unsavory things that I can't possibly repeat in print. And at least a few e-mailers seem to be missing the point.

So let me say that I don't hate the "Star Wars" movies; I'm still a huge fan of the original trilogy (stress the word "original").

And I never said George Lucas didn't have the right to tinker with his films, only that I won't be buying the new DVD versions.

Still, a lot of the e-mailers have made some good points. And some made me think.

Take David Anderson, who said he thought he would be "one of the guys like you out there talking about how Lucas had soiled the 'Star Wars' trilogy . . . but I have to disagree with you on this one. 'Star Wars' hasn't been better."

After buying and watching the DVDs, Anderson said he found that "the enhancements are not as bad as everyone makes them out to be. They don't add a lot to it, but most of them are so minor, I had to zoom in to realize what they did."

Also, he says the pluses of the new editions outweigh the minuses. "The effects are all up to snuff when compared to the new films, so when I share these with my kids they won't think it's dumb when Darth Vader's lightsaber is just a white stick, or that all the spaceships have brownish boxes around them."

David VanLangeveld wrote that I made some "excellent" points about whether it is Lucas's "artistic right" to tinker with two films — "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" — since they were made by other directors (Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand, respectively).

However, he also noted that, before his death, Marquand supposedly discussed possible changes and enhancements to "Jedi" with Lucas for the "Special Edition" version.

VanLangeveld also pointed out Kershner is one of the individuals who provides an audio commentary for the DVD version of "Empire." "If he didn't approve of the changes, he wouldn't have participated in the commentary."

OK, good arguments.

Not that I've changed my mind about buying the DVDs.

THREE IS ENOUGH. And speaking of trilogies, Columbia Pictures chief Amy Pascal is reportedly telling director Sam Raimi that "Spider-Man 3" will be the last film in that series.

In some interviews overseas, Raimi says he's been told to wrap up all the dangling story threads in the third film, tentatively scheduled for a summer 2006 release.

What that means is that we probably won't see the much-clamored-for villain Venom (who is essentially an evil doppelganger of the wall-crawling hero). Instead, the next film will concentrate on Harry Osborn (James Franco) fulfilling his father's legacy and becoming the new Green Goblin.

Let's just hope he replaces that "Power Rangers" villain costume with something that looks a little cooler.